Has America slipped in the world rankings? According to Wharton, the U.S. ain’t what it was compared with two years ago.
In its annual survey, Wharton ranked America as No. 8 in 2018, compared with our No. 7 ranking in 2017, and No. 4 ranking in 2016. That’s according to the 2018 Best Countries report, a ranking and analysis project by U.S. News & World Report, Y&R’s BAV Group, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The report was released Tuesday and is available online at https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries.
In its third year, the rankings evaluated 80 countries across a range of criteria, from economic influence and power to citizenship and quality of life, to capture how nations are perceived on a global scale. The survey polled more than 21,000 people in 36 countries. Most were described as informed elites — aka college-educated and middle class or higher — while about one-third were business leaders and the rest were from the general public.
The U.S. ranked fourth-best in the world in 2016 based on perceptions – how the world views the U.S. relative to other countries based on 75 metrics weighted by their correlation with gross domestic product per capita.
“The 2018 ranking, taken at the end of the past year, gives us insight into whether Trump has truly made America great again,” said David Reibstein, William S. Woodside professor of marketing at Wharton. “The result is most disappointing. The U.S. has fallen from its No. 4 position in 2016 to now being No. 8 in the world.”
For the first time, those surveyed were asked their opinions of major world leaders: Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel are most respected globally, while President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin saw the highest disapproval ratings.
Among top business leaders, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company. Alphabet, was the most respected.
Reibstein presented the findings Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and said via e-mail: “In all of my conversations while I have been here, there is considerable discussion about the U.S. being less of a global player and leaving the door open for other countries, China in particular, to take more of a leadership role. Some have noted how the U.S. progresses onward despite current leadership. There is considerable buzz about President Trump’s appearance later in the week.”
The United States previously ranked 35th as the country most open for business. Now at the end of the first year of the Trump administration, that number has dropped to 43rd in the Wharton report.
In addition, the global population now views the U.S. government as less transparent – dropping from 13th in 2016 to 18th in 2018.
Political stalemates, even with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, have plagued the U.S., and as a result, the nation has dropped in its political stability ranking from 21st to 23rd after Trump’s inauguration.
Other findings in the 2018 Best Countries report:
- Switzerland ranks No. 1, followed by No. 2 Canada, as countries with more progressive social and environmental policies dominate the overall rankings. Nordic nations – Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway – rank in the top 15 overall. Denmark is the No. 1 country for raising children and for women. Sweden takes the top spot for green living, and Norway ranks at the top for citizenship.
- Germany moved up one spot to No. 3 overall, replacing the United Kingdom, which fell to No. 4. Germany’s reputation as an open nation with government transparency and strong gender equality led to its rise in the rankings. The U.K.’s drop, however, signals a growing lack of confidence in its economic strength post-Brexit.
- Japan remains at No. 5, scoring high marks in entrepreneurship, up-and-coming economies, and rich traditions. Singapore and China, at No. 16 and No. 20, respectively, follow among the highest-ranked countries in Asia. Both nations are viewed as having a strong potential for economic growth.
- The U.S. fell one spot to No. 8, after No. 6 Sweden and No. 7 Australia. It dropped in two important categories: open for business, which looks at market-oriented countries, and movers, which evaluates nations with up-and-coming economies. Perceptions of the U.S. as politically stable, democratic, and having an open travel policy have decreased. However, America remains No. 1 in power for the third year, closely followed by Russia at No. 2.